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The festival's concluding program (16 May) brought the American début of the Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg, winner of the 2002 Santander (Spain) International Piano Competition. Giltburg possesses a terrific bravura technique. In the Busoni transcription of J S Bach's Chaconne in D minor he projected the dense contrapuntal lines with absolute clarity. Giltburg brought invigorating joy and bracing power to this masterful transcription. His version of Beethoven's famous Sonata in C Op 53 (Waldstein) was young man's Beethoven. He played the opening Allegro con brio at a rapid clip, infusing it with edgy brilliance. There was wonderful lyricism, rhythmic pulse, and textual accuracy in his joyous performance of the concluding Rondo. The sheer voluminous sonority of Giltburg's playing was thrilling! His imaginative, high voltage renditions of three of Rachmaninov's Etudes-Tableaux Op 39 were deeply satisfying. In Mussorgsky's ultimate piano showpiece Pictures at an Exhibition, Giltburg unleashed a plethora of tonal colors. He also brought admirable restraint to the concluding Great Gate at Kiev -- avoiding the temptation to play with over the top abandon. The sheer beauty of his pianissimos made the haunting Con mortuis in lingua mortua a mesmerizing experience! Always Giltburg brought a grand musical line to the score. Musical depth, rather than superficial effects, seemed to embody this gifted young artist's approach to every score he played. His elegant rendition of Rachmaninov's version of Fritz Kreisler's Liebesfreud was a charming encore.

Due to the illness of the British pianist Paul Lewis, Mihaela Ursuleasa, a Romanian dynamo, presented a recital on 13 May in tribute to the memory of veteran Miami Herald music critic James Roos (who had passed away earlier that day). Ursuleasa's liquid tone and sensitive phrasing made Robert Schumann's Davidsbundlertänze Op 6 a loving, heartfelt tribute to nineteenth century Romanticism. Ursuleasa reminded the listener that these were dances -- vigorous, sentimental, and robust. The delicacy of her playing and her insightful interpretive mastery brought new life to this familiar score. Her version of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No 1 may have been the fastest on record. It was also the most imaginative. Every turn of phrase was wonderfully unpredictable -- devilish indeed! Her razzle dazzle take on two of Bartók's Romanian Dances, a bracing performance of Beethoven's Eroica Variations, and an intelligent rendering of Prokofiev's wartime Seventh Sonata (with the most dreamy, melting Andante Caloroso imaginable) again confirmed that Ursuleasa is a formidable artist!

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Copyright © 15 June 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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